Children’s Week celebrates and honors the state of Florida’s commitment to children and advocates. This legendary event began more than 20 years ago and now has over 5,000 attendees and hundreds of volunteers who make Children’s Week the largest event hosted at Florida’s State Capitol.
FFCR’s Marissa Leichter attended as a mentor with the Miami chapter of Florida Youth SHINE. This year FYS was advocating for SB 646/HB 823 “Florida’s Youth in Foster Care Need a Bill of Rights,” sponsored by Senator Book and Representative Ausley. This bill would provide Florida’s children in foster care one statutory section listing their current, important rights. DCF’s “Rights and Expectations” publication intended for youth still carries an introduction by DCF Secretary Bob Butterworth who left the position in 2008. FYS believes Florida’s children in foster care need a process where they are educated about their rights in an age appropriate, understandable, and consistent way, and they need to know what can be done if their rights are violated. Twenty-six states already have a statute or policy that lists the rights afforded to youth in care. In addition, federal law requires children in care (14 and older) be provided a document describing their rights to education, health, visitation, and court participation, and the right to stay safe and avoid exploitation
Florida Youth SHINE members met with over 75 legislators sharing their stories and advocating for the passage of SB 646/HB 823.